Spiritual Fog

Jesus and His disciples came to Bethsaida, a blind man was brought to him and he begged Jesus to touch him and give him his sight. Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had put his hands on him and wiped spit in his eyes. Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.” (Mark 8:22-26, NIV)blindness

The Bible describes four occasions when Jesus healed the blind.  Only on one occasion did He touch a person twice to heal them completely.  I have read this passage many times but when I reading it recently it occurred to me how unusual this was.  Not only did Jesus touch the blind man twice, but he took him out of his surroundings and told him not to return to the village after he received his sight.

Jesus did nothing without purpose and that would not bring glory to the Father.  Every miracle He performed had a purpose other than the healing of the individual(s).  The people of the region did not acknowledge Jesus although they were aware of His many miracles.  They had no faith, and because of their unbelief, He did not perform many miracles in the region.  In Matthew 23:26, Jesus admonishes the Pharisees for their unbelief.  Jesus also used this as a lesson for His disciples.  They who were closest to Jesus believed in Him but did not have clear spiritual vision.  Their vision was clearer than the Pharisees who were spiritually blind, but the disciples could not see clearly.  Their vision did not become clear until after Jesus’ death and resurrection when the Holy Spirit came upon them and they understood clearly all that Jesus had said and done.

All Believers have what I call spiritual fogginess at one time or the other, and some never get passed the fog.  This is often because we are so used to being in a fog that we are unaware of its existence.  Jesus asked the blind man of Bethsaida whether he was able to see clearly and he acknowledged that he saw people who looked like trees moving.  We do have someone to tell us we are in a spiritual fog and need to seek another healing touch to clear our sight–The Holy Spirit.  We must pray and listen to the quiet voice of the Spirit within us for help in moving away from the fog.

Our Spiritual Enlightenment is a continuous process.  We cannot see God’s truth clearly until our faith, obedience and growth develop in Jesus, “… the author and finisher of our faith….”  (Hebrew 12:2, NKJV) who increases the clarity of our spiritual vision through the Power of the Holy Spirit.

Integrity

Definition:  Quality of being honest and having strong moral principles, morally upright.

The integrity and moral courage of the upright will guide them, But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them. (Proverbs 11:3, AMP)

Do you try to do your very best at everything you set your hand to or do youintegrity just do enough to get by?  As a Believer you should be striving for excellence, using Jesus as a  model.  It is unlikely that any of us will totally be able to match His model, but we can keep reaching towards the goal knowing that as long as we are trying we will continue to move forward.  We live in a world where mediocrity and substandard are a norm. How do we stand out in a world that imbues average as normal?  Where it is good enough to get by is always the response when you seek better quality or performance.

I am constantly reminded by my grandson when I tell him he must excel in his education, work up to his full potential,  and get into the habit of doing more in order to prepare for the type of life he says he want that I am passing all my classes with average grades. Or if I tell him that he is not living up to his full potential,  I get a, “Everyone else is doing it”.  My response to him is that you are not like everyone else, you want to get all that has been destine for you. To get it, you must give nothing less than the best and accept nothing less than the best.  No one can or should measure him/herself by anyone else.  I remind him that excellence should not only be his goal, but it is mine also, and there are times when I fall short and must try harder. Old habits are hard to break it is better to form good habits when you are young.

How do we change this habit of mediocrity–one task at a time.  Goals must be set and habits developed by each Believer that exemplify instead of float along on a sea of mediocrity.  Our behavior and performance should reflect a belief that Jesus is watching us because he is. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth.…” (2 Chronicles 16:9, KJV) “And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, and revealed to the eyes of Him with whom we have to give account.” (Hebrews 4:13, AMP)

Integrity is an individual choice of how we wish to life.  As a Believer, living a life based on integrity should be one of the characteristics that shows that although you are a part of the world you are not of the world.

Reaching Forward

Philippians 3:13, “… But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” (AMP)

You cannot see what God has for your future while hanging onto your past.  God is the future. As we await the dawning of a New Year, we reach forward towards the unknown–developing goals to propel us into the future and the better life we want for ourselves and our families.  Many of these goals reflect changes we want to make in our own behavior.  As this New Year’s Eve brings us closer to the beginning of a New Year, our determination gets stronger to carry out our goals.

After the newest of the New Year wears off, many of us will settle back into the same old habits and the new goals become nothing more than a fond and frustrating memory to be filed away.  We have all done it; reached for the future and the unknown but allowed Satan to pull us back into the familiar and limited.  Doubts about the future and our past failures all bloom on the horizon reminding us of our fears and futile efforts of the past.

To get to the next thing, God has for you, you must leave the old and familiar.  A perfect example of this can be found in Abraham (Genesis 12:1-9).  He left everything he was familiar with and traveled with his family to an unknown country.  Three years ago my family and I made a move from North Carolina to Florida.  We did not know where we would be spending the night, had no job awaiting us, and only knew one person who lived in Florida.  What we did know was that it was time to leave North Carolina.  Everything went smoothly during the over 800 mile drive, my daughter driving the moving truck and I drove the car.  We found a hotel upon arrival that accepted dogs (We have two small ones.) and soon we found a house to rent, my daughter found a job and we were settled within a month of our arrival.  Sometimes, I still look back at and am amazed at how God looked out for us and put things in place for my family.  Truly,  I believe and have experienced His love.  I feel as though I have been sheltered from the storm.

Staying with a situation or a person longer than you should instead of moving toward the new thing that God has for you keeps you from the destiny that God has designated for you.  Do you feel the Holy Spirit within you gently pushing you toward the unknown and God’s future for you?  Are you reaching, but holding back?  Let Go and Let God is an expression I heard many years ago, but it still rings true.  Abraham listened to the Lord when told to leave all he knew and ventured forth with courage and did not doubt.  silhouette-936721_640Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

Additional Scripture to help you move forward.

Psalms 62:8 “Trust [confidently] in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.” (KJV)

Isaiah 43:18, ““Do not remember the former things, Or ponder the things of the past.  (AMP)

1 Peter, “casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]. (AMP)

I pray that Everyone’s New Year is Happy, Prosperous, and

you attain your goals for 2017.

Are you Listening?

This time of year children anticipate the arrival of Christmas, they are warned by their parents that they must be patient.  Their behavior magically improves because Santa only brings toys and gifts to the good boys and girls.

Christmas Eve is the only night they do not have to be coerced to go to bed.  They retire early, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa.  Parents have usually informed their little ones that Santa will only come if they go to bed and are quiet.  That is the only way they will be able to hear the hoofs of the reindeers when they arrival on the roof.  They, of course, fall to sleep in the quiet, dark room while impatiently awaiting the sounds of the hoofs on the roof.

As parents, we, of course, know the reality of the arrival of the gifts and toys, and feel blessed to be able to provide for our children.  There is nothing that can replace the look of surprise and wonder on the faces of our kids as they bound into the room in search of treasure.

We are God’s children he is happy to provide for us,  but it is our option whether we believe and accept the gift of his love and salvation.  He offers the gift not once a year, but if we accept it, He through the Holy Spirit, walks with us as we journey through life.  We, as believers, do not have to wait in a quiet, dark room for the still, quiet voice that guides.  We only have to listen and allow ourselves to be guided along the right path.  Yes, sometimes we stumble, but we are not forsaken, but are lifted up and set aright just as a small child is when they fall while trying to learn to walk.

Do you hear the still, quiet voice in your spirit gently guiding you.  Do you listen or ignore it entirely?  Some call it conscience some call it common sense.  I call it the Holy Spirit guiding me. I personally do not believe things happen in isolation nor do things happen by coincidence.  The more you let yourself be guided, the louder the voice will be as you are guided to a life that reflects the Spirit that is within you as a believer.

May we all strain and train our hearts and minds to follow the small, quiet voice and take the better path.

 

I ask again —  Are you Listening?

Birthday Goals

Recently, I  was blessed to experience another birthday.  It has been my habit to look back on my life on birthdays and reflect on God’s blessings and my activities during the past year.  For me this is a time to review and start making changes and setting new goals for the upcoming year.  One of my continuous goals is to strengthen my relationship with the Father and to become more aware of the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  My intent is to lessen the time it takes me to respond to a prompting and to reduce the times that I ignore it altogether.  No matter how I try sometimes I still follow my own mind in direct contradiction of what the Holy Spirit is prompting me to do.  Just as Paul said in Romans 7:14-15 , 21-25:

“… I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (ESV)

When I make the wrong decision despite what the Holy Spirit prompted me to do, I repent and ask forgiveness and try to do better.  But fortunately for me, I have a forgiving God who loves me, and continues to look after me in all my hard-headedness.  Despite of my stumbles, I know that I have made progress and continue to make a conscious effort to move forward.

My hard-headedness and stubborn disobedience reminds me of the exiles of Israel after God brought them out of Egypt  making Aaron create the golden calf during Moses’ absence on Mt. Sinai incurring God’s anger and resulting in a great loss of life and thstubborneir wandering in the desert for 40 years. After the Lord had brought them out of Egypt and Moses led them through the Red Sea and drown the Egyptians. Those who witnessed the miracles and examples of the Lord’s power, it should have been enough.  But time after time, they tried the Lord’s patience and suffered the results of taking the wrong path.  Isaiah 48:4, “Because I know that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew and your forehead brass,” (ESV)

One of the many benefits of being a child of God is that we can be wrong and hard headed, but still be able to repent, and go the Father for forgiveness because we have an intercessor who will constantly plead on our behalf.  Fortunately, for us Jesus has been assailed with the weaknesses, trials, and pitfalls of being human and conquered them.  He understands the pull of Satan and how to fight against and overcome temptation.

As I stride to improve and be a grateful recipient of God’s grace, I thank Jesus every day for being my intercessor and understanding the weaknesses of the flesh.

Have You Thanked Him Today?

Courage

lion-515028_640Courage – The quality of mind or spirit that enables one to deal with or face danger, fear, pain, etc; the confidence to act in accordance with one’s belief.

Joshua is one of my favorite prophets of the Old Testament.  He was the first prophet after Moses, the greatest of them all; hand-picked by God and a man who God talked with face-to-face.  Joshua as Moses’ second-in-command was brought up under the tutelage of Moses.  Moses was truly a tough act to follow.

After the death of Moses, Joshua had to step-up and lead the people into the Promised Land across the Jordan.  Can you imagine trying to step into the shoes of Moses.  I am sure that this heavy responsibility caused Joshua to doubt his abilities and result in some sleepless nights.  God and Moses knew of Joshua’s uncertainty that is why Moses “… laid his hands upon him [Joshua]; at an assembly of the people so the Israelites would listen to him and do as the Lord commanded.” (Deuteronomy 34:9, Amplified)   At the laying on of Moses’ hands, Joshua not only received confirmation of the handing over of  leadership to him but he also received the spirit of wisdom from Moses.  Without this confirmation the Israelites would more than likely not accepted Joshua after Moses without question for they were known for being a stiff-necked and difficult people.

Joshua was told by the Lord to  “Be strong and confident and courageous, for you will give this people as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers (ancestors) to give them.  Only be strong and very courageous … ” (Joshua 1:6-7, AMP)

I cannot count how many times I have read Joshua 1:6-9 during times of trials in my life.  Each time I read this Scripture it gave me the strength to continue.  When I was car-less and had to ride the bus and subway an hour and a-half to work each day and then return in the evening to begin my other job as a mom to my two kids, cooking dinner, helping with homework, cleaning up, etc. believe me I needed all the strength I could muster. Joshua 1:9 was just one of the scriptures that I wrote on a 3×5 card and read every day, but this one was one of my favorites. So many times as I got tired, depressed, and frustrated reading about what God said to Joshua encouraged me to keep on going and reminded me that my family depended on me to be courageous and keep going.  As I often told my kids,

Giving up is not an option!

Let Go

I surrender every area of my life to you Jesus. Show me how to “Let Go”. I am controlling and need to “Let Go” and let you rule my life.  I am not good at it.  Yes, I have long since acknowledged Jesus as my Savior, but letting the Spirit take over my life is a constant struggle.   let go

Several weeks ago while sitting at church listening to a sermon regarding Joshua’s sending spies into Jericho and their encounter with Rahab.  I let my mind wonder and began envisioning that I was floating on water being carried along on the surface.  What is interesting is that floating is as close to swimming as I was able to come during my swimming lessons several years ago.  My arms and legs are truly uncoordinated,but I did learn to release control of my body to the point that I could float quite comfortably.  I felt I was floating along being carried to only God knows where on what seems to have been a river. There  was such a feeling of peace that came over me as I listened to Rahab’s story.  

I did not understand what was happening or why I felt the floating sensation during a sermon at the time, but today it became apparent to me.  For one of the few times in my life I had actually unconsciously surrendered myself completely to Jesus and “Let Him Take the Wheel.” The sensation lasted just a few moments, but it was totally refreshing to my spirit.

Today I realized how impossible it is to be a controller when I am totally incapable of controlling my own life and was never equipped to.  How many times have I heard and read this, but today it became apparent to me.  Creating the habit of following the Spirit is not easy, but necessary I will be working on it.

As I start each day, I thank the Father for allowing me to see it, acknowledging His love for me, asking Him to bless my family, and asking the Holy Spirit to take the wheel and direct me through the day.  As I continue my activities, I am focusing on “Letting Go” and floating in the rest of God.

In case you thought surrendering to the Lord and letting the Holy Spirit guide you meant that you become inactive and passive, it does not.  Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”  What I am surrendering is the anxious worry and struggling.

I am not there yet, but continuing to work toward it.

 

Life Trials Make Diamonds

What has diamonds to do with Romans 5:3-4?

And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance;  and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation] (Romans 5:3-4, AMP)

A diamond, the hardest naturally occurring substance on Earth, formed under high pressure and temperature over billions of years.  It is one of the most precious of all the gemstones.  During the development of the diamond, it is changed slowly from one substance to another.  The results are a brilliant, hard multi-faceted stone that is treasured throughout the world.

The Life’s Grinding Stone

The trials and tribulations that we go through as part of living  can either turn you into a person of integrity and a warrior for God or, if you let troubles weaken you, you will break under the pressure and never emerge as the precious stone that God has purposed you to be.   As I look back on my life and the difficulties that I have encountered, I truly thank God for preserving me and continuing to work with me during my trials.  He gave me the strength to go through and not buckle.  The trials have smooth many of the rough edges and strengthen me.  When I face problems I remember the Holy Spirit has moved me through other problems.  Although I pray for a miraculous deliverance from the trouble, sometimes you just need to go through it so the lesson can be taught and another chunk of worthless material can be removed.  The trouble usually comes because I did not do what the Holy Spirit prompted me to do or I stubbornly followed my own path instead of asking for guidance and awaiting His response.  I have also been known to place my trust in a person instead of trusting God.  I have learned about what a mistake misplaced trust is the hard way.

Personally, I still struggle with praying for deliverance when trouble comes, but I at least now know that God will work in his own time and according to His own plan.  So my prayers include a request for deliverance, but also if it is not according to His will that He will strengthen and guide me through it.  grinding stone

Just as gemstones are smoothed to make them more brilliant, we are smoothed on the grinding stone of life, smoothed so that the rough edges are worn away and the true warrior for God shines through.

Have you felt the smoothing process as the Holy Spirit guides you through life’s trials?

Can you hid from God?

The answer is “No”.

Job 34:21 “For God’s eyes are on the ways of a man, And He sees all his steps.” (AMP)

Have you ever felt as though someone was watching you.  You looked around and see no one particularly paying you any attention.  So you turn around again and continue your activity.  But the feeling continues and although you look around again, you do not discover the watcher.  I have had that feeling, it can really make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.  The feeling usually comes when I am doing something that is not right or I am engaged in an active that my conscience is telling me to back away from.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of conscience is — “An inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior.” Because I am a firm believer that what the dictionary defines as conscience is really the Holy Spirit and not just a part of the human psyche,  I have learned to pay heed to the small, quiet voice that has become louder and clearer over time.  Not that I always follow it’s lead because I can be very stubborn at times, but I am more aware of it, and respond to it more often.  One reason for this change in my behavior is that when I do not respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompts, I always regret it sooner or later.

We think that God does not see or is not concerned with the little indiscretions as well as large ones.  As I stop and think about some of the events of my life that I have hidden deep down, away from my current thoughts, and would rather no one found out about, I ask God for forgiveness in the name of Jesus because I know now that I can do nothing that is not seen.  In my younger years, I did not have an understanding of the of the Holy Spirit.  Not that I am an expert now, but I know a prompting when I get it.

Where can I go to hide from the eyes , “… of the Lord which roam throughout the earth.” (Zechariah 4:10, AMP)  Where can I flee?  Psalm 139:7 says, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?

We cannot hide the bad habits, bitterness, hatred, jealousy, lack of integrity from God and the Holy Spirit reminds us that nothing goes unseen.

I used all the above Scripture to reinforce my belief that God sees everything I do big and small.  There is no hiding, just as he can rescue or give us the ability to make it through  any trouble, he sees what we are doing.

All changes take time and effort on our part fortunately the Lord is patient. I am nowhere near where I should be, but I am closer than I have been.  It is my prayer that all Believers are working their way toward a better understanding and relationship with their heavenly Father through Jesus Christ.

Treasure to the Believer’s Soul

Deciding to get baptized as an adult is a big decision, and as I stood waiting to be led up the steps to the baptismal pool, so many thoughts ran through my mind.  Did I really want to do this? I knew I wanted to get closer to God and build a better relationship with him. Since I was in my forties, just getting baptized, I wondered if it would make a big difference in my life, would I feel differently? I knew that there was more to God’s Word than I was aware of and although I had been reading the Bible and going to church off and on for many years, I did not have an understanding of exactly who I was and my inheritance as a child of God.  I wanted to feel more and understand what I was missing of God’s promise to his people.  In other words, I was still looking for my God-given purpose.

Stress and Worry

I knew that I suffered from too much stress. I was always nervous and tense. Worry was my constant companion. As a single mother of two kids trying to support and raise my kids properly, at least better than I felt that I was raised, hard work and a strong work ethic sums up what I felt I inherited from my parents. I had controlling issues.  As the oldest of four kids and the only girl, I was used to being in control and acted with authority in most situations.  Tired and stressed most of the time was a normal part of my life, but I knew that there was more to life than this.  I understood enough about the Bible to realize that I needed to remedy my situation before I worried myself into an illness.  I watched several members of my family, suffer through illnesses that could not only be linked to food, but also to stress and worry. I decided at an early age, that I was not going out like that. Deep within I knew that the answer to many of my problems was centered around lack of faith in God and a total ignorance of His Promise.  I think that is what started me going to church to try to find the treasure I knew God had made available to me since I was not having much luck finding it myself.  So I felt it was time to get serious about building my relationship with God and my first step would be to get baptized.

Sharing Abraham’s Promise

As I mentioned before I read the Bible, but did not have an in-depth understanding of how to relate God’s words to what I was encountering in my daily life.  I was having difficulty just understanding where I as a Gentile (anyone who is not a Jew) even fit into God’s plan.  I Corinthians 8:6 says, “There is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live.” (NLT)  cleared my understanding of my entitlement in God’s promise. I was overjoyed to be a joint inheritor of the kingdom Jesus Christ died to make available for us.  And then I read Romans 4:16 which confirms my inheriting the treasure chest filled with the bounty of God’s grace and mercy. Because I share the faith of Abraham, I can become a daughter of Abraham and, therefore, share in God’s promise to him.

So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. (NLT)

When my turn arrived, I pictured the treasure chest waiting for me filled with the treasures that Jesus mentioned during His time on earth–Grace, Salvation, Love–precious gifts that are treasures that cannot be brought with gold or silver.  Although this was many years ago, I remember the event like it was yesterday.  I really expected things to change in a big way in my life.  But they did not.  And interestingly enough I did not feel much different than I did before I went into the pool.  No strange light, no revelation, no feeling of newness.  As a new creature in Christ, I did not feel any different.  I turned this over and over in my brain as I changed and got dressed.

My Change

As I look back my changes came gradually over a long period of time.  My changes have so gradual that I did not realize they were happening. Over the years that I have changed in many areas of my life, and I am more conscience of the urging of the Holy Spirit telling me what to do and what not to do.  The wonderful thing about the Holy Spirit is that He is always working with me and shaping me.  I still have a long way to go, but progress has been made, and I will continue to work on it with the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Don’t let your treasure chest lay unopened.

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